Adonis Diaries

State Syria daily “Teshrine” (October): Who is the Syrian journalist Samira el Massalmeh?

Posted on: October 27, 2011

State Syria daily “Teshrine” (October): Who is the Syrian journalist Samira el Massalmeh?

Six months ago, basically since the start of the uprising in Syria against the regime of Bashar el Assad, Samira el Massalmeh was the chief editor of State Syria daily “Teshrine” for two and a half years.

Samira is the first woman to head a State daily. She said: “Many who are currently considered in the opposition movement, like Samir el Aitah, were welcomed to express their opinions in the State daily.  I suffered many pressures to desist permitting freedom of expression, given that most other “private”dailies refrained from these practices”.

(I wonder if there are actually private dailies in Syria, and would like Samira to respond to my question).

Samira resumed: “Not a single Syrian daily dared confront the Prime Minister for his abuse of power and firing many employees without judicial due recourse. I did it. And President Assad encouraged me to display corruption stories in front page. I also published accounts of the various threats that I received from government officials. I had not obtained any official notification to desisting in my investigations, but the frequent threats were there at every occasion. When I created a new section “Culture”, which was meant to open up to different cultural tendencies, officials did their best to close it.”

(Samira does discriminate among private dailies, government, and State dailies. I guess in developed State, there are implicitly dailies representing government opinion, but it is not made official. The majority of “private” dailies in developed States represent the State, and are the “disseminator” of the State orientations, guidelines, and supporters of the main funders (the government institutions), though these dailies never acknowledge their biases.  The same goes with opposition dailies. Very few “private” dailies consistently confront the power-to-be attitude and ideology).

Samira said: “I was the first to reasearch and express opinions on reforms of the political and social structure. At the start of this uprising, the code names of “reform” and “change” became true threat to the regime. The Syrian Parliament, which has no say in firing journalists, actually voted for firing me as chief editor. The struggle for reforms in ten years old: people wanted to transform Syria into a multiparty representation, democratic institutions…by reviewing the election laws and the legality of creating political parties… The vested interest of the elite class who enjoyed so much advantages during the last 30 years (Baath Party officials, Alawit minority, military officers…) feared changes and reforms”.

Samira said: “I once was threatened to be incarcerated (before I was offered the job of editor in chief) when I published accounts of fictitious companies obtaining investment rights and privileges with no institutions of review, control and inspection procedures and processes.

In the last six months, I have been saddened: My only outlet for writing is through Facebook, and I cannot withstand all that bloodshed.  We have been very late in comprehending Syria, and the various scenarios on putting an end to this upheaval will cost us heavily in human potential and economic growth and stability…

I feel like a prisoner, and my opinion is also incarcerated. I publish my stories of the period I was editor in chief of the daily Teshrine…” 

Note: Article inspired from the interview of Omar el Cheihk with Samira el Massalmeh in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar, on Oct.27, 2011

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October 2011

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